Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Am Ozzy

I Am Ozzy
By Ozzy Osbourne

I like to follow-up light reading with something a little deeper, more intellectual. That's why I picked up Ozzy's (auto)biography as a follow up to Milan Kundera.

I keed!

Anyway, I think I've hit critical mass for rock n' roll biographies about rockers who have no business still being alive (Keith Richards, Anthony Keidis and now Ozzy). Unless something really interesting falls into my lap, this is probably the last chronicle of drug and alcohol abuse I will read this year. I need to branch out, you know. Spread the proverbial wings. Maybe read Charlie Parker's biography.

Anyway, Ozzy.

I can't figure this book out. One the one hand, it's hilarious. Ozzy is a lot of things: madman, alcoholic, rock legend, television icon, lover of animals, walking dead. His stories are, literally awesome. Anyone who has a cursory knowledge of rock and roll history is familiar with at least a half dozen of his stories and he seems to be a natural story teller (through his ghost writer, of course). He's so self-deprecating it's endearing. You can't help but love the guy. He's the lovable loser from school. The guy that always seemed to end up spilling water on his own pants right before an assembly, forcing him to endure endless ridicule about pissing himself but takes it in stride. There's simply nothing to dislike about Ozzy. He's the original reality celebrity (long before The Osbournes, I might add) and despite all the stories, he always comes across as one of the coolest people on the planet.

On the other hand, the book reads like a hangover the day after the mother of all benders (in this case, 40 years). But didn't I already know all this? Did I have to read the book to come to this cup of black coffee and greasy food?

This all raises the question: Was there any need for this book? Ozzy professes that he wants to set the record straight about his life. But who's going to read this book? Ozzy fans, that's who. People like me who think the first four Black Sabbath albums are the pinnacle of rock and roll (I'm listening to Volume 4 as I write this. Snowblind to be specific... sublime). People like me who actually freak out when they play Crazy Train at sporting events ("Dude! Ozzy! Let's buy more beer!). People like me who think Supernaut just might be the greatest heavy metal song ever recorded (do not even think of retorting with Iron Man... You will lose all credibility). These are the sorts of people that are going to read this book. People who already know the score.

For example, I sincerely doubt that my mother, who I know reads this blog (Hi Mom!), would ever, in a million years, think to herself: "You know? I simply don't know enough about that guy Fozzy Ossburn. Maybe I should pick that book up and brush up on my knowledge of classic heavy metal." No sir. I can absolutely guarantee this book is not falling into the hands of non-Ozzheads.

Furthermore, this book is essentially a rehashing of all the classic Ozzy tales: The formation of Black Sabbath from the wreckage of Earth, the recording of Paranoid. Tony Iommi's finger deformity. Ozzy getting fired for being a drunken fuck-up. Marriage to Sharon. Solo career. Biting head off live bat. Biting head of live dove. Touring with Motley Crue. Suicide Solution trial. Near death experiences. The Osbournes. Drunken debauchery involving women, guns, mountains of drugs, eyebrow shaving and, like all rock and roll biographies, repeated rehab stints. No new ground covered, here.

Don't get me wrong, the stories are great. Ozzy is a fine story-teller. But we've all heard them a million and one times! Anyone who is even a casual fan of Ozzy Osbourne is familiar with the bat story and the dove story and most people know the straight dope on it as well. And even if you didn't, I'm sure The Osbournes reality show cleared a lot of things up. There's no real reason, at this late date, to set the record straight. As memoirs go, this one wasn't especially enlightening. But then again, what secrets could Ozzy possibly have? His entire career was an open book.

All that being said, I like Ozzy. I can't say a bad word about him. He comes across as one of the most genuine people in the world in print, on record and on television. Sure, he's got a boatload of problems both physical and psychological, but who doesn't? If you are a fan, go ahead and pick it up. It's a quick read and it's fun. In fact, open up a bottle or four of Hennesy while you do. I bet it would make it that much better. But if you don't like him or have no idea who he is, forget it.

It will just give you a hangover without the benefit of the Hennessy.

And nobody wants that.

P.S. I can't believe that Ozzy passed up the opportunity to title his memoirs Diary of a Madman. I mean, come ON! That shit writes itself!


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